Saturday, July 6, 2013


My mind is filled with images.  Haunting images.  Of devastation.  And of community.

I spent today in High River, helping with flood clean-up.  I wanted to bring my camera.  But I couldn't bring myself to do so.  It just didn't feel right to be taking pictures of the devastation people are suffering.  But the images are seared into my brain.  

- a child's bicycle sitting by the front step of a building that cannot be inhabited right now

- a skate hanging over the edge of a dumpster

- the individuals who came and asked if we were volunteers - who then asked us for their help

- the plastic lid of a rubbermaid tub - labeled photo albums

- a picture frame laying face down on the lawn, with an inscription of love on the back

- the long line of traffic waiting to get into High River, people streaming in to help

- the father and three children who came pulling a wagon and offering snacks and drinks, and the sheer generosity of heart the children (and the father) showed

- the gratitude of the homeowner when he came home to find that his friend had indeed managed to get people to help clean his basement out

- the immense piles of garbage (translation - personal possessions and building materials) piled EVERYWHERE

- a railroad bridge that wasn't a bridge, but just a rail line with nothing supporting it as it crossed the river

- a boat straddling the rail lines

- the twisted rail lines

- the neighbourhood that is still under an incredible amount of water

- the look on my friend's face when I appeared in her friend's basement to help clean it out  (As an aside, I had hoped to see her, but I didn't want to ask to help her.  That's the place where we were sent by the church!  Totally a God-thing.)

- groups of volunteers everywhere

- the total silence in the vehicle all the way back home

- muddy muddy people

- seeing young men I had taught years ago - giving and giving and giving to their community

- camaraderie among strangers who are working for a common cause

- the iridescence of CDs shimmering amidst the brown and gray piles of drywall and insulation pulled from a basement

- a piano sitting on the curb 

- bleachers from a baseball field sitting on a fence

- signs of hope - deep pink peony blossoms ready to open and shining out amidst the pile of rubble being removed through a basement window right beside the bush

So - I'm haunted.  Forever changed.  And feeling blessed.  And, truth be told, a little sore.  But mostly feeling incredibly blessed.

P.S.  The theme of our school year this past year was community building.  There are LOTS of opportunities to put that into action in my home.  And I have been incredibly inspired by the creativity and generosity of people.  I am so proud to call this city my home.


  1. Karen, what a beautiful post! I can't imagine the things you saw. I can't imagine the devastation people have experienced. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanks, Grace. I haven't been on here much lately, so I just saw your comment tonight. Thanks for letting me know that my musings touched you. I know that I needed to process the thoughts and images and feelings for myself, but it is good to know that others could benefit as well.